Tayside healthcare workers demand ‘fair pay for all!’

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NHS marchers in London warn of funding crisis – Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG are recommending £32.7m of cuts

HEALTHCARE assistants at NHS Tayside have gone into battle to demand the same pay as their colleagues demanding ‘fair pay for all!’ They are determined to see their struggle through to victory and are threatening to work-to-rule, ballot for industrial action or organise a strike to fight for their rights.

Around 150 healthcare assistants, who provide support to nurses and other medical staff, will see their pay upgraded this week.

The pay rise could be as much as £2,000 a year in some cases and, for some workers, will be backdated to 2015.

But an email to staff said other claims will, if successful, only be backdated to when they were raised.

Some healthcare assistants will also remain on the lower band and some are claiming the disparities are creating a ‘horrible atmosphere’ amongst staff.

One worker said: ‘This week around 150 people, band 2, spread across the whole of Ninewells and Royal Victoria Hospital  have signed up to be upgraded to band 3 as of July 1st.

‘This means I will be doing the same job but for less money. Management will say these people will be working differently and working towards a training schedule to fulfill the band 3 job description.

‘I am of the opinion I have been doing band 3 for years.

‘There have been threats of working to rule and there is a horrible atmosphere on most wards.

‘Those who have signed up have done nothing wrong and have been put in a weird place by a management team that have handled this in the best tradition of NHS Tayside.’

The worker added: ‘The trade unions seem to be in no hurry to confront this issue and expect you to act as normal until something is worked out.’

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Care Commissioning Group (CCG), forecasting a £75m deficit, has recommended a multi-million pound package of cuts, including permanently axing IVF for its population.

Funding for a range of community services supporting older people and patients with long-term conditions, including an emergency rapid response team, could also be dropped under proposals to be discussed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG board.

Other services the CCG has recommended cutting funding for include Dial-a-Ride, grants for multiple charities, a brain injury rehabilitation centre, ophthalmology services, and dermatology services (see box below for full list).

The CCG’s board papers said the cuts were part of an ambitious £32.7m savings plan needed to hit its £75m deficit target, which is £50m worse than the original £25m control total set by NHS England. NHSE has now agreed to a £75m target, the CCG said.

A report on its IVF services said it had saved £731,000 between September 2017 and March 2019 by suspending the service. And it recommended permanently ending the service due to ‘finite resources’ and other funding priorities. It is one of only a handful of CCGs funding no IVF at all.

The report comes just weeks after health minister Jackie Doyle-Price wrote to CCGs on 17 June to warn them it was ‘not acceptable’ to cut IVF services – a move taken by only a handful of CCGs to date, some of which have subsequently rowed back.

Such cuts caused an ‘unfair’ postcode lottery, ‘psychological distress for patients’ and ‘untold reputational damage’ to the NHS, the minister said.

‘I cannot emphasise enough that it is not acceptable for CCGs to offer no routine access to fertility services,’ she added.

The service cuts were identified as part of a deficit analysis which warned the CCG was wasting around £20m because of ‘overlapping commissioned services that resulted in duplication and poor efficiency,’ the board report said.

It published a paper on its community services review, which said it needed to cut the services’ £112m expenditure by £4.1m. It has so far identified £2.8m of those savings.

The CCG has also proposed cutting its joint emergency team, which provides rapid response support for older people and patients with long-term conditions – a service it has long heaped praise on. The review proposing its funding should be cut adding it ‘provided excellent patient facing care for patients’.

The CCG’s £75m deficit, set out in a plan it submitted to NHSE in May, was part of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership systemwide planned £192.5m deficit.

The CCG has been asked for comment and said it recommended decommissioning or ceasing funding for:

  • Dial-a-Ride;
  • The Stroke Association;
  • The Alzheimer’s Society;
  • The Carer’s Trust Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Norfolk;
  • The Health and Wellbeing Network;
  • The Evelyn Community Head Injury Service;
  • RSS Ophthalmology;
  • Evolution – ophthalmology;
  • DMC – dermatology;
  • Oliver Zangwill (a brain injury rehabilitation centre);
  • The joint emergency team.

It added that it ‘would like to renegotiate service provision and/or payment’ for the following:

  • The Care Network;
  • Cambridge Hearing Help;
  • ACES Ophthalmology;
  • Minor Eye Conditions;
  • Concordia ENT;
  • Sawston Microsuction;
  • ENT GPSI (Charles Hicks Practice);
  • Dermatology GPSI Buckden/Wisbech;
  • Diagnostic Healthcare (formerly Excel);
  • Global Diagnostics;
  • Dexa scan (multiple providers);
  • Specsavers Direct Access Audiology;
  • Inhealth Audiology;
  • Vasectomy (various contracts).

Meanwhile, a large private company working within the NHS has blamed ‘volatility’ in the ‘NHS market’ and a reduction in publicly funded orthopaedic work for its falling profits. Private companies are making vast profits out of the NHS.

Spire Healthcare Group Plc’s 2018 annual accounts showed profits before tax had fallen to £8.2m, down from £22.7m the year before.

NHS spend with the company fell from £293.3m to £272.2m, while NHS revenues were down 7.2 per cent and NHS-funded admissions fell 8.7 per cent to 92,674.

Spire’s chief executive Justin Ash described the previous year as one of ‘sector turbulence and challenge’.

Treating the NHS as a business he added: ‘I expect 2019 to be a year of consolidation. We are responding to the challenges in our markets by redefining how the business operates.’

The company’s revenue of £931m was comprised 29.2 per cent of NHS payers, while 18.7 per cent was from self-paying patients and 46.5 per cent came from private medical insurance.

The accounts, published this week, said the decline in NHS business made 2018 ‘a difficult year’ across the sector. It said there were fewer NHS admissions ‘as NHS commissioners deal with ongoing financial pressures through triage and changes to referral processes.’

Orthopaedic care was particularly badly hit, the company reported.

Their report added: ‘We are proud to partner with the NHS but the volatility of NHS demand we experienced in 2018 is one reason we have a strategy of increasing the private pay part of our business.’

The huge private business operates from 39 different NHS hospitals across the UK.